Samsung debuts Galaxy S6, payments service

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Samsung debuts Galaxy S6, payments service
Samsung Galaxy S6 Edge with curved screen.

Apple Pay rival lands.

Samsung today unveiled its latest Galaxy S6 smartphones, equipped with a new payments services in a direct play at rival Apple Pay

Designed from scratch in an operation dubbed "Project Zero", the Galaxy S6 and its curved-edges variant are critical for Samsung's plans to reverse plunging smartphone revenues that led to its first annual earnings fall in three years in 2014.

By some estimates, Apple surpassed Samsung as the world's biggest smartphone maker late last year, selling a record 74.5 million iPhones in the December quarter on the back of the success of its big-screen iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. 

Samsung's previous flagship Galaxy S5 was outsold in its second full month of global sales by Apple's older iPhone 5S, according to researcher Counterpoint.

The company's revamped Galaxy line of phones - the flagship Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge - were unveiled today at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. They hit the market on April 10.

Australian pricing is yet to be disclosed.

Stand-out features include casing made from light-weight metal used in airplanes, a step up from the plastic that disappointed many critics of the S5, and Corning Gorilla Glass on both front and back.

The Galaxy S6 upgrades the previous version's camera and screen, and strips out many of Samsung's unpopular in-house software apps that infuriated users by gobbling memory.

Along with the Galaxy S6 edge, the new flagship phone will  be powered by Samsung’s new 64-bit, 14-nanometre Exynos processors.

Samsung Galaxy S6

The phones are also the first from Samsung to support wireless charging as a standard feature. In another departure, they have non-removable batteries to make them slimmer.

To compensate for the lack of interchangeable batteries, Samsung says a 10-minute charge by cord gives four hours of power. The Galaxy S6 boasts a 2500mAh battery, while the Edge carries a 2600mAh battery.

Both models are equipped with a 5.1in Super AMOLED display, Android 5.0 "Lollipop", and 16MP back and 5MP front cameras.

Samsung Pay

Samsung is also touting the Galaxy S6's compatibility with a new mobile payments system it is preparing to launch in the United States and South Korea in the second half of this year, using the technology of recently acquired startup LoopPay.

The system, in partnership with banks and credit card companies including MasterCard and Visa, will allow users to make mobile payments through magnetic strip-card readers without the additional accessory needed for other models. 

The rival Apple Pay system, launched in the United States in September and rapidly winning retailer support, requires the installation of in-store near-field communication technology. 

The new Samsung flagships will also come with free two-year, 115GB cloud storage through Microsoft's OneDrive, suggesting improved relations between the firms after they settled a patent dispute last month.

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